We understand that each wardrobe is as different as the person wearing it, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things that find a place in every closet. Regardless of how you view your personal style, the guidance outlined in this series should help set the bedrock for every closet. With classic design and ageless appeal, garments featured in The Foundation are easy to assimilate style staples that are sure to be worn on a regular basis. Advice found in this column should become tenets to dress by—no matter where you are in your style journey.

There’s plenty that’s already been said on behalf of the polo shirt. Inspired by the game of the same name, the polo shirt was originally crafted to suit the needs of Argentinian polo players in the late-19th and early 20th centuries, as they suffered while playing in the region’s hot climate. While originally crafted in oxford cloth with a button down collar (to prevent flying up in the wind) the polo became the shirt we know today thanks to the needs of tennis players—specifically famed French tennis player René Lacoste. Designed by Lacoste himself, the tennis polo came to life with the help La Société Chemise Lacoste, crafted in a now ubiquitous breathable piqué cotton. It’s Lacoste’s design touches—cuffed sleeves, a button-free collar—that helped the polo transfer from the court to the country club.

However, while the polo earned its name from “The Sport of Kings” and gained its current design from the sport of tennis, its current cultural cachet comes courtesy of American designer Ralph Lauren. Lauren’s initial connection to the polo has to do with naming his eponymous brand. After starting his own tie company, Lauren needed a name that would appropriately fit the sophisticated lifestyle he was catering to and inspired by. Joking to TIME that “[he] couldn’t call it Basketball,” he settled on, you guessed it, polo. In 1972, he created his own iteration of the polo shirt bearing its now world-known polo player motif and an icon was born. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the soft collared shirt became an iconic staple for the rising middle class; a common sight on the backs of businessmen as they headed to the boardroom, transitioning with these men as they spent their weekends on the links at the country club. Simultaneously, Lauren’s connection with East Coast opulence and old money made it exceedingly desirable to those yet to secure their slice of the “American Dream.” Groups like the Lo Lifes gave Ralph Lauren an injection of contemporary cool; Ralph Lauren’s polo player was riding high—from the mansions of East Hampton to the blocks of East Brooklyn and everywhere in between.

By the 2000s and stretching into the modern day, Ralph Lauren is still producing its signature piece, churning out a myriad of colorways. Naturally, for maximum flexibility, we recommend copping in pure white (with a navy blue logo, for the traditionalists out there) While it’s likely you’re properly familiar with what a polo shirt looks like, there’s a few ways to wear it that stretch things beyond simply throwing it on top of a pair of jeans, chinos or shorts. For something dressier, tuck it under a blazer (we have one in mind); it’s a move that’s not going to betray the inherently relaxed nature of the polo shirt, yet simultaneously translate across multiple sartorial scenarios. All things considered, don’t overthink this unconventional (but commonplace) collared shirt; there’s a reason why it looks natural hanging in both your (and your dad’s) closet.

Want to learn about other Ralph Lauren grails? Study up on the brand here.

Interested in more than just in Ralph Lauren’s polos? Shop Grailed’s selection of Ralph Lauren here.

Tags: tennis, lacoste, the-foundation, polo-shirt, polo, polo-ralph-lauren, ralph-lauren